Clark University has announced the launch of a new Master of Public Administration (MPA) for Senior Leadership program. The first cohort of students will enroll in fall 2019.
According to the program’s executive director, Joe O’Brien, the MPA for Senior Leadership program is uniquely tailored to the needs of emerging and accomplished public leaders who want to boost their influence and grow their capacity to drive change in the public sector.
“As a former mayor, I know that public leaders are always trying to stay ahead of the quickly evolving policy landscape,” says O’Brien, who served as mayor of Worcester from 2010 to 2012 and has worked in the public sector for three decades. “We’ve crafted a program that confronts the real-world challenges that local and state governments are actually facing today — and will face tomorrow.”
The program’s online format, which will be supplemented by several weekend residencies, offers mid-career professionals the opportunity to advance in the public sector while still working full time.
“This program allows you to maximize the flexibility of online learning, so you can manage your own pace,” O’Brien says. “You don’t have to sacrifice your job or your personal life to earn your credential.”
O’Brien understands the importance of investing in the skills and capacities of public leaders. With more than 30 years of experience as an elected official, government leader, and policy adviser, O’Brien brings extensive first-hand experience to his new role. He served five terms in public office in Worcester, including one term as mayor and chair of the School Committee. O’Brien also worked for three years as the district director for U.S. Rep Jim McGovern of Worcester, and has served as a political consultant for more than 20 local, state, and federal candidates, including former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray. Most recently, O’Brien served as the executive director of the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund, a statewide environmental advocacy and policy organization.
In his new role at Clark, O’Brien looks forward to providing individual mentorship to each student within the incoming cohort.
“This a small, intimate program where the students will receive personalized attention and support from accomplished professionals in the field who will help them tackle real world problems,” he said. “Many other MPA programs are focused on theoretical problem-solving, but ours will be centered upon a highly relevant, practical curriculum led by experienced practitioners in the public sector.”
Students will also benefit from several other unique facets of the program, including one-on-one executive coaching and media training. “As soon as you enter this program,” O’Brien says, “we’ll be providing students with new tools to help them excel in their existing role while gaining a credential to advance in their careers.”
To supplement online coursework, the MPA for Senior Leadership cohort will participate in seven residential workshops, held in key cities throughout New England. Tuition includes room and board for these weekend sessions, which will allow students to explore the issues directly affecting these cities and the region. For instance, a workshop focused on the policy challenges of the emerging cannabis industry will be hosted in Springfield, Mass. Students will learn from relevant speakers, who will share their personal experiences on the frontline of these issues.
The residency workshops will also give students the opportunity to network with others in the field and make powerful connections with faculty and classmates.
“It’s so valuable to have peers to call on to share professional challenges,” O’Brien explains. “As mayor, when I was confronted with a problem, I didn’t try to figure it out on my own— I reached out to call on the expertise of other mayors that had solves similar challenges in their communities.”
O’Brien also points out that an MPA degree is becoming more and more valuable.
Job outlook data supports this sentiment. Experts believe that local and state government will be among the industry sectors most highly impacted by the “Silver Tsunami,” a wave of baby boomers surging toward retirement and draining the workforce of their expertise. With a wealth of job vacancies looming, a new cohort of professionals needs to be ready and prepared to fill these empty positions.
O’Brien is excited to be involved with Clark’s commitment to strengthening the public sector and advancing the public interest. “This program will help train the next generation of change agents in the public sector who share Clark’s commitment to building a better world.”
The MPA for Senior Leadership program will be administered by the School of Professional Studies and is now accepting applications for fall 2019. The two-year program will be targeted toward individuals with three to five years of supervisory experience in the public sector. The School of Professional Studies will also continue to offer its traditional Master of Public Administration program.